After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Vermont Youth Cycling is welcoming kids into mountain biking at a record-breaking pace in its fourth official season of youth bike racing.
This Saturday, Oct. 16, the nonprofit will host its fourth and final youth mountain bike race of the season at Cochran’s Ski Area in Richmond. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14.
“It’s been my secret goal all season to have more than 150 kids at a race,” stated Rachel Cohen, chair of the Vermont Youth Cycling (VTYC) board of directors. “We already have about 100 people registered for Saturday, so I’m really optimistic we’ll meet and surpass that target.”
The volunteer-run nonprofit kicked off this year’s series in early September at Poultney’s Slate Valley Trails before heading to Randolph mid-month. Early October’s race at Woodstock’s Mt. Peg trail system set a new bar for participation, with 140 racers grades five through 12. More than 30 percent of those riders were young women.
“The interest in riding and racing bikes this year has been truly incredible,” stated Cohen, a cyclist from Jericho and a public school teacher in Colchester. “Having grown up in Vermont myself, I wish these sorts of opportunities existed when I was a kid — that’s something a lot of parents talk about at every race. It’s not just the chance to race but the camaraderie and sportsmanship we see among young people on bikes that is really special.”
Vermont Youth Cycling was founded in 2018 to host interscholastic group rides and races and has seen participation grow steadily until it skyrocketed this season.
Any young cyclist in grade five through 12 may participate in VTYC events, which include group rides in addition to an autumn race series. Numerous schools and regions have formed club teams to participate in the league. Some teams, including those from Woodstock, Norwich and St. Johnsbury areas have grown to more than 25 participants apiece.
The organization's final race will take place on Saturday, October 16 at Cochran's Ski Area in Richmond. The race is an enduro format, with timed segments on a course that loops around the hillside, and racers will depart in waves beginning at 10 a.m.
To learn more or to sign up, visit bikereg.com.